The Bridge party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Bozo Petrov has stated that following his proposal, Bridge deputies in the parliament, ministers and members of the party's National Council decided to support a vote of no confidence in the Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).
The information about this decision made by the Bridge party was carried on the web portal of the Zagreb-based Vecernji List daily on Thursday.
Asked by the Jutarnji List daily, Petrov said that it would be advisable for Karamarko to step down due to his political responsibility and burden on the government stemming from "too strong connections" between businessman Josip Petrovic and a circle of people very close to Karamarko.
I have known that Josip Petrovic is a consultant for MOL, which I have found to be an unnatural connection given that Karamarko is the first Deputy Prime Minister. We don't have to be aware of any more detail and we don't have to wait for the decision of the Conflict of Interest Commission, as available information shows clearly that there is (Karamarko's) political responsibility, Petrov said in an interview which the Jutarnji Daily will release in its print edition on Friday.
The Conflict of Interest Commission has asked First Deputy Prime Minister Karamarko to present a written submission regarding the commission's decision to launch proceedings against him to determine whether he is in conflict of interest because of the business relationship between his wife's company and his friend Josip Petrovic, who is a consultant for the Hungarian MOL oil company.
Karamarko has to explain whether as a member of the government he participated in any discussion or decision making on the government's attitude and policies related to the arbitration procedures between Croatia and MOL, according to the Parliament's Conflict of Interest Commission which has launched a probe in Karamarko regarding the business relations between the Drimia company in which Karamarko's wife Ana owns 80% and the Peritus consulting firm owned by Josip Petrovic who at the same time has business relations with MOL.
Currently two arbitration proceedings are about the relations between Hungary's MOL and the Croatian government in the Croatian oil and gas group INA. One procedure was launched in November 2013 by MOL before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington to determine whether the agreement with Croatia on gas business was being fulfilled. According to the agreement Croatia obliged to store, sell and purchase gas at market prices for a period of 15 years.
The second procedure was launched in January 2014 by Croatia against MOL before the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law seeking an annulment of a 2009 agreement which transferred management rights in Croatia's INA oil company to MOL.
Croatian Foreign Minister and HDZ official Miro Kovac said on Thursday that in the event that Bridge ministers in the current government supported the proposal for Karamarko's impeachment, this would mean that they took sides with the Opposition parties -- the SDP and the Croatian Pensioners' Party (HSU) -- that had already filed a motion for no confidence in Karamarko in the parliament.
It would be logical that our partners from the Bridge be on our side, Kovac said in an interview with the commercial RTL broadcaster.
The cabinet of PM Tihomir Oreskovic reportedly should take a position on the issue on Friday during its conference call.